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Presented By: Center for World Performance Studies

Improvisation & Encounter: Pedagogy

Moderated by Ajay Heble, with Douglas R. Ewart, Ed Sarath, Georgia Simms and Jesse Stewart

Improv & Encounter Improv & Encounter
Improv & Encounter
Free & Open to the public
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The second in a series of virtual roundtable discussion curated by Scholar-in-Residency Ajay Heble, exploring the theme of Improvisation & Encounter. Drawing its inspiration in part from The Fierce Urgency of Now: Improvisation, Rights, and the Ethics of Cocreation, a collaboratively-authored book by Daniel Fischlin, George Lipsitz, and Ajay Heble, this series of online roundtable conversations will explore Improvisation in the arts as a scene of encounter. Moderated by Heble, the focus of the second panel is PEDAGOGY, and brings together educators from diverse disciplines. This roundtable will explore how the teaching and learning of improvisational artistic practices might be understood as vital and publicly resonant sites of encounter that generate new forms of knowledge, new understandings of identity and community, and new imaginative possibilities. How, we want to ask, might the kinds of cultural and pedagogical institutions and communities that present and promote improvised arts (both within and outside of traditional classrooms) shape our understanding of public culture, of memory, of history?

Douglas R. Ewart, Professor Emeritus at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, immigrated from Jamaica to Chicago in 1963, where he studied music theory at VanderCook College of Music, electronic music at Governors State University, and composition at the School of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. His life and his wide-ranging work have always been inextricably associated with Jamaican culture, history, politics, and the land itself. His extremely varied and highly interdisciplinary work encompasses music composition (including graphic and conceptual scores as well as conventionally notated works), painting and kinetic sound sculpture, and multi-instrumental performance. He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and others.

Ed Sarath is Professor of music in the Department of Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation at the University of Michigan and also director of the U-M Program in Creativity and Consciousness Studies. He founded and serves as president of the International Society for Improvised Music ( His most recent book is Black Music Matters: Jazz and the Transformation of Music Studies (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018), which along with his prior book Improvisation, Creativity, and Consciousness: Jazz as Integral Template for Music, Education, and Society (SUNY/Albany, 2013), are the first to apply to music principles of an emergent, consciousness-based worldview called Integral Theory.

Georgia Simms is an artist, educator and facilitator. Since 2005, she has taught Graham-based modern dance technique as well as movement improvisation in a variety of contexts, for youth and adults.These experiences in dance combined with her academic studies, in geography, governance and arts-based community engagement, inform her creation of learning experiences for students in the First Year Seminar Program at the University of Guelph. She also weaves movement into her group facilitation and program design for the local non-profit organization, Art Not Shame. Simms is currently an artist-in-residence with Guelph Dance for its 2020-2021 season.

Jesse Stewart is an award-winning composer, improviser, percussionist, visual artist, instrument builder, researcher, writer, educator, and community activist dedicated to reimagining the spaces between artistic disciplines. As a musician, he works primarily in the areas of jazz, new music, free improvisation, and electronic music. He has performed and/or recorded with musical luminaries from around the world including George Lewis, Roswell Rudd, Hamid Drake, Evan Parker, Bill Dixon, William Parker, Pauline Oliveros, David Mott, Malcolm Goldstein, Jandek, Pandit Anindo Chatterjee and many others, in addition to leading several groups and performing regularly as a soloist. A past recipient of the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award, he is dedicated to building and strengthening communities through arts education and outreach.

Scholar-in-Residence Ajay Heble is Director of the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation and Professor of English in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph. He is the author or editor of several books, and a founding co-editor of the journal Critical Studies in Improvisation/√Čtudes critiques en improvisation ( He was the Project Director for Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice, a large-scale Major Collaborative Research Initiative, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. As the Founder and Artistic Director of the Guelph Jazz Festival, Heble has jolted the citizens of Guelph into an appreciation of improvised and avant-garde music and delighted aficionados from around the world with his innovative and daring programming.
Improv & Encounter Improv & Encounter
Improv & Encounter

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